Beyond The Sketch: Talking With Print Designer Aimee Clarke

March 4, 2016

On any given day, the Anthropologie Home Office is as much artist’s studio as it is commerce hub, as our talented creatives fill their workspaces with beautiful notions. And though we are surrounded by our colleagues and their breathtaking designs each day, we still get that “Wow!” feeling whenever we encounter something truly special. Take, for instance, the Rainforest Silk Dress, one of the stars of our dress-centric March Catalog. As soon as we saw that lush and leafy print, we caught up with Aimee Clarke, its creator and our print designer for dresses and skirts, to chat about it. Turns out, Aimee painted the original design in watercolor right at her desk. “This is the best job ever,” she said, laughing. We can’t help but agree.

Have you always wanted to be a print designer?  What was the first one you designed?
Yes. My passions have always been art and fashion design, and print allows me to practice both simultaneously. I love that one day I might be designing a bold geometric graphic pattern and then the next, an expressive, large-scale oil painting with a massive dry brush. Every day is exciting and challenges your design capabilities. The first print I ever designed was at school. We had learned about Gaudi and his extraordinary tessellating tiles in Barcelona, and I created a brightly colored mosaic floral print that repeated across fabric. After screen-printing the design, I embroidered thick yarns into sections of the mosaic. It was a lot of fun!

What is your process like?  What tools do you use?
After finding inspiration from a combination of sources, such as photographing flowers, sketching architecture, studying old books, or our vintage archive, I create original imagery. From this imagery, I draw elements, and then use a variety of mediums such as paint, pastel or collage to bring the images to life. When I have all of the elements I need, I scan them into the computer and then use software to compose my design, creating patterns and placements, adding effects and changing colors

Were there any major changes to this print, from your original concept to the final product?
The placement and color were explored and developed in different ways. The flowers and leaves first cascaded from the neckline of the dress, but we decided that the print looked more impactful from the bottom peplum up. I love designing prints that transition from one thing to another, and adding special elements along the way. I tried a rich red coloration that looked beautiful, but perhaps wasn’t appropriate for the season. This combination of acidic and jeweled green tones, teamed with the neutral base was our favorite.

Do you remember the first time you saw one of your designs in an Anthropologie store? How did it feel?
It has always been my dream to work for the brand, so I felt like I had won the jackpot the first time I saw one in stores. The garment was a green carpet coat that was also featured on the front cover of the December catalog. I think my mother has 20 copies—rather embarrassing. I also gave her the coat for Christmas—the memory of the smile on her face when she unwrapped it was one that I won’t forget.

Fancy Aimee’s prints as much as we do? Download her wallpaper for your desktop and mobile device.

Shop the Rainforest Silk Dress, and the rest of our March catalog dresses